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Sinclair, Christine (2001) Personal Development Planning in Practice: A series of case studies. In: Personal Development Planning in Practice: A series of case studies. PDP in HE Scotland Network, pp. 20-23. ISBN 1 901 085 627 http://eprints.cdlr.strath.ac.uk/3271/ Strathprints is designed to allow users to access the research output of the University of Strathclyde. Copyright © and Moral Rights for the papers on this site are retained by the individual authors and/or other copyright owners. Users may download and/or print one copy of any article(s) in Strathprints to facilitate their private study or for non-commercial research. You may not engage in further distribution of the material or use it for any profitmaking activities or any commercial gain. You may freely distribute the url (http://eprints.cdlr.strath.ac.uk) of the Strathprints website. Any correspondence concerning this service should be sent to The Strathprints Administrator: [email protected] Personal Development Planning in Practice A series of case studies ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS The Personal Development Planning in Higher Education (Scotland) Group would like to thank Scottish Qualifications Agency, Scottish Executive, Quality Assurance Agency in Higher Education and all contributors to the publication. Editors: Charles Juwah, Lorraine Stefani, Jenny Westwood, Craig Gray, Jan Drysdale First Published 2001 ISBN 1 901 085 627 COPYRIGHT All rights reserved. The moral right of the authors has been asserted. Except for use for course of instruction and distribution within UK Higher Education Institutions, no part of this publication may be reproduced in any form, without the rights clearance and/or prior written permission of the authors. All reproductions from this publication should acknowledge the source and copyright of the PDP (HE) Scotland Network. © PDP in HE Scotland Network These Case Studies reflect the variety of potential contexts for PDP, including work-based learning contracts, disciplinary based processes linking learning with personal and professional development, credit bearing modules, web- based and paper-based recording formats. Common features of the Case Studies include emphasis on reflection, key skills, professional and disciplinary based skills. Almost all of the Case Studies address the complex issue of assessment of personal development planning, with many successful initiatives focusing on learning, development and formative feedback as well as the support required to underpin aspects of PDP. On the other hand, there are successful examples of credit bearing modules, credt being awarded on the basis of the processes of reflecting on learning and linking learning with personal development. While this series of Case Studies provides only a snapshot of the variety of initiatives already embedded in programmes of study, all of them sit well with the QAA Guidelines relating to the Personal Development Planning aspect of Progress Files. Also, a Case Study from the SQA has been showcased here to highlight the move towards a seamless transition for learners moving through different sectors of the Scottish Education system with respect to Personal Development Planning opportunities. FOREWORD Lorraine Stefani Chair, PDP in HE Group Scotland In December 1999, a consultation seminar on the forthcoming guidelines on Progress Files was jointly organised by the QAA in HE and the Personal Development Planning in Higher Education (Scotland) Group. The seminar, hosted at the University of Strathclyde attracted Higher Education policy makers, senior administrators, academic and related staff involved with teaching and the support of learning. While most Higher Education Institutions already provide graduating students with a transcript of attainment, albeit in different formats, not all HEIs have well formulated policies and practices relating to the provision of Personal Development Planning opportunities integrated into programmes of study. A clear outcome of the consultation seminar was the need to provide for policy makers and practitioners, models of Personal Development Planning which have already been embedded within academic programmes of study and other learning pathways. In response to this stated need, the PDP in HE (Scotland) Group commissioned practitioners across the Scottish Higher Education sector to provide individual Case Studies, highlighting good practice in providing, implementing and supporting Personal Development Planning opportunities for learners. These Case Studies are premised on the systems, processes and ethos of the Scottish Higher Education system, but they are clearly relevant to HEIs throughout the UK and beyond. It is for this reason that the PDP in HE (Scotland) Group has worked in collaboration with QAA to provide these models of good practice from across the HE sector. We hope that all relevant HE staff can build upon these case studies, adapting and remodelling them where appropriate to fit particular learning contexts but always bearing in mind that the personal/individual benefits derived from engaging in the process of PDP are generally more crucial than the framework or procedures used for recording PDP, whether utilising traditional paper based systems or the increasingly popular electronic media including the world wide web. WHO SHOULD USE THESE CASE STUDIES? These case studies demonstrate the use of PDP in a variety of contexts in higher education. They should be of interest to individuals in a range of roles within and outwith the sector. For example: • Policy makers and senior managers in higher education will gain insights into how PDP works and will be able to make informed judgements about how the process can be supported; • Discipline-based lecturers and tutors will find examples of PDP integrated into specific disciplines; • Tutors supporting work-based learning will find examples of PDP used in work-based learning; • There are examples drawn from educational and careers guidance contexts; • Some case studies feature the use of IT for those interested in making greater use of IT in supporting learning; • Students will gain an increased awareness of the importance of reflection and becoming a self-directed learner; • Employers will see how students are encouraged to develop these skills which will be essential to them in continuing professional development in their future careers; • Reflective practitioners, regardless of discipline, profession or vocation will find different approaches to the process of PDP. With the emphasis on lifelong learning for the twenty first century these case studies should have something to offer a very wide audience. CONTENTS Guide to Topics Covered in the Case Studies v Case Studies: 1. Plans for Action , Time for Reflection: an Experiment with Time, Action and Personal Development 1 Paul Maharg 2. Personal Development Planning with Support Network Team Volunteers 6 Colin Mason, Sally Collier & Catriona Baxter 3. The Open Universityís Portfolio Approach to Personal and Career Development 12 Paddy Maher 4. Personal and Professional Capabilities within the Curriculum: Case Studies from the University of the Highlands and Islands Project 16 Linda Wheeler 5. Keeping a Reflective Journal: Reflections of a Mature Student 20 Christine Sinclair 6. Development of a Work-Based Management Qualification 24 Alison Nimmo 7. Reflective Portfolios for Work-Based Learning 29 Jennifer J Graham 8. Reflection in Work-Based Learning for Undergraduates 33 Melissa Highton 9. Personal Development Planning in the Faculty of Arts, the University of Edinburgh 36 Lynda Ali 10. Encouraging Personal Development Planning through Project Management Logbooks 39 Lorraine AJ Stefani 11. A Portable Document for Lifelong Learning: Piloting a Web-Based PDP Tool for the Academic and Professional Design Community 44 Jenny Ure, Julian Malins & Charles Juwah 12. Progress Files Developments in Schools, Colleges, Training & Employment 49 Fiona Forrest & Tracy Walker Information About PDP in HE (Scotland) 55 GUIDE TO TOPICS COVERED IN THE CASE STUDIES CASE STUDIES 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 Academic Content Learning Outcome x x x x x Performance Criteria x x Process - Skills Development Key Skills x x x x x x x x x x x x Subject specific Skills x x x x x x Professional Skills Development x x x x x x x x x x x x Assessment Formative x x x x x x x x Summative x x x x x Credit-Rated/ Bearing x x x x x x x Reflective Practice x x x x x x x x x x x x Feedback Loop x x x x x x x x x v 1 PLANS FOR ACTION, TIME FOR REFLECTION: an experiment with time, action and personal development Paul Maharg University of Strathclyde Summary This paper describes the implementation of a student development planning document or action plan for law students in the department of Law and Public Administration, Glasgow Caledonian University. First, the theoretical background to the implementation is described, followed by a description of the plan itself; and then the initial feedback obtained, via action research, from students who used the plan. Finally, some key points and resource issues are highlighted. Dr Paul Maharg is Senior Lecturer in Law in the Centre for Professional Legal Studies, University of Strathclyde. He teaches on undergraduate courses, but his primary responsibility is professional legal education on the Diploma in Legal Practice in the Glasgow Graduate School of Law. He is particularly interested in developing students’ skills in taking responsibility for their own learning as well as how curriculum design and delivery can be enhanced by C&IT. [email protected] • learning outcomes • performance criteria • subject-specific skills • performance skills development • professional skills development • reflective loop • feedback loop • summative assessment • credit bearing Context to the Action Plan: pre-existing counselling arrangements and documentation Recently in the department of Law and Public Administration, there existed a system of counselling or advice which is a variant of what exists in other departments in the university and probably in other institutions as well. Under this system, students were assigned to staff in their first year, and there was a requirement for staff and students to meet each other at least once during this first year, and preferably more than once. In subsequent years of their academic career, students were allocated an academic counsellor in the department, but there was no requirement to meet with him or her. In the department, counselling sessions tended on the whole to be occasions in which staff gave advice on a range of matters to do with academic affairs — student option choices, attendance at seminars, etc. Students learned that their advisor was there to be contacted should they have any problems at home which could affect their academic work, and should they encounter problems in their academic work in the university. On occasion, students would consult with their counsellors regarding these matters, and it was then there was the possibility that the sessions could take on more of the sense of real ‘counselling’, rather than discussions of options and the like. In one form or another, this system is prevalent in many universities; but the term ‘counselling’ draws attention to some drawbacks in it where it exists in the form described above. In the first place, ‘counselling’ is not strictly descriptive of the content of such meetings. Moreover, staff are not trained in counselling or advising techniques; and if students come to them with major domestic or personal problems they are generally referred to counselling services elsewhere within the university. Secondly, such counselling regimes tend on the whole to be reactive only. Counselling academics act when they become aware of their students’ problems, and students come to see their counsellors only when they encounter problems, and are seeking short- or longer-term solutions that require the help of a member of staff. Moreover, some students are sometimes reluctant to come forward unless in extremis because of the presence of the power relationships that inevitably exist between staff and students. Seldom is there any emphasis on the proactive role of a counsellor, mainly because of the definition of the role. Third, the role of the counsellor is strictly bounded within the curriculum. It does not feed directly into the normal teaching of staff or the learning of students. The reactive nature of the counselling session was mirrored in the documentation with which academic counsellors logged the sessions in the department of Law and Public Administration. This was an A4 sheet with a number of boxes in which staff recorded the interview with a student. Normally, in real counselling environments, what documentation there is tends to be either primarily administrative in nature, or for the use of the practitioner in reflective notes. However, the academic counselling documentation logged student problems, identified and agreed via staff-student contact. The next year, a new counsellor was appointed, and a new log begun. But with each passing year, the opportunity was lost to build up a portrait of the student from year to year, not merely for staff, but primarily for the student. Such a portrait could have been an important ‘process’ document which charted progress in interpersonal contexts such as group-work and the like. Normally this is difficult to assess across years, particularly because modular systems can render it difficult to track the assessment of interpersonal activities across the curriculum. Kept systematically, the content of the log described above was composed of private notes for the counsellor. It was not descriptive of, or intended to describe, students’ understanding of skills and knowledge acquisition, and their understanding of details that may cast light upon why they felt or did things. Above all, it was a list of problems, defalcations, failures; and as such, could be described as a pessimistic document. This arose from the reactive and trouble- shooting nature of the academic counselling in which staff and students played out their roles. But it also, and inevitably, arises from an epistemological view of what constitutes educational knowledge, events and interactions. For the most part in higher education, these take place in what one might regard as formal educational settings — seminar rooms, lecture theatres, libraries or laboratories - and not in one-to-one counselling sessions. Formal educational settings inevitably constrain the nature of the learning undertaken by students because they appropriate it to physical spaces within the university, and to specific forms of interaction between students and students, and students and staff. Such constraints are always present within any learning environment, and their effects have long been recognised by educationalists, such as Dearden (1976), p12, and Carr & Kemmis (1986), pp112-13. However many of the recent innovations in teaching, learning and assessment have had the effect of introducing new forms of learning - groupwork, collaborative learning, learning contracts, online learning, for example - that re- define types of interactions and events used in learning. Personal development planning is one such form of learning. It is a form at least part of whose roots can be traced to the literature of student-staff interaction. As a recent study shows, students tend to see lecturers as potential sources of help, not only with academic problems, but for help with personal problems (Grayson, Clarke & Miller, 1998). This creates expectations which, if not met, tend to reduce the quality of the learning environment. As Grayson et al put it, ‘[w]e would speculate that there will be an increasing mismatch between what students expect and want (in terms of support from tutors) and what tutors are in practice able to offer’. A third of the students were still unclear about the purpose of the Plan, so clearly this needed to be clarified. The point about registration is more problematic. As administrative procedures then stood in Caledonian, it would have been very difficult to have transferred Registration information to the Plan, even for such a small group of students. However it is not impossible to mark up electronic text on a form (whether typed or scanned) and to transfer it electronically from one form to another, and such a procedure would certainly help students to draft their Plan. For a good example of how this might be planned within a web environment, see http://www.scit.wlv.ac.uk/university/roa/roa.html This Plan, developed at the University of Wolverhampton, is generic, and does not seem to be linked to specific programmes of study or disciplines; but gives a sense of the type of interactivity which is possible online. 2 Description of the Action Plan The Action Plan is a modest example of an instrument that was designed to: • Enable students to integrate social, personal and academic domains • Chart the development and integration of skills across modules • Facilitate the adoption of a new role for staff in advice situations. These three together may appear ambitious and far-reaching aims for such a relatively simple idea, and document, but it was an underlying principle of the document that none of these three can be achieved to any great extent without taking into account the other two. The key characteristics underlying the aims were those of interaction and integration, both of these arising from a study of the educational literature in the field of student development instruments. In the next section I shall describe the educational background to this, and the models upon which the Action Plan was based. Function and Use The document is thirteen pages long at present, and consists for the most part in sections that the student fills out before meeting with the counsellor. Some of the sections are filled out during the counselling session, while others are filled later. Part A consists of an analysis of acquired abilities, skills and achievements, as defined by a statement of: • academic achievements • work experience • interests • personal qualities • health Part B is given over to an analysis of educational and career aims, as defined by statement of: • occupational goals • personal transferable skills • how the university could help attain/improve the above two statements Part C consists of an analysis of personal targets and means of achieving them by: • brainstorm (individual) • priority list (with counsellor) • updates throughout the year In contrast to previous counselling documentation which lay in staff filing cabinets, students exercised their right to the information in the Plan by having physical possession of it, if they wished. They gave it into staff safe-keeping only if they want to, and if staff wanted to copy it, they require student permission, though staff would make their own notes too. In this way I hoped to signal to students that this was not just an administrative document, but a valuable and above all a personal document. Students were asked to update the information as and when it changed. The information they logged in the Plan was then fed into a number of modules at key points in the curriculum. Reference was made to it in a level one Legal Skills module, in the writing skills unit, which was developed in a level two module. Further on in the curriculum, in a third level module called Clinical Legal Skills, it was planned that students would have used the information in their Plans to construct CVs directed at areas of employment they had outlined in their Plans, and covering letters which identified the key elements in their personal and employment experience which were relevant to the simulated job application. To an extent this already happened as an activity in the Legal Writing Skills unit, where it is used as an example of the importance of transforming writer-centred ideas and feelings into reader-based prose which deals with audience expectations and needs. The Action Plan, though, would have allowed students the space to think about how the academic curriculum, together with their employment record and their social life, was interacting to create their future. In the process, students’ potential for marketing their skills and knowledge would have been enhanced. In one sense the Plan helped students considerably to write reader-centred CVs. In such documents, activities tend to be snapshots, lacking in context and experiential resonance. Since the Plan is cumulative over the period of undergraduate study, the inclusion of its historical dimension was designed to add depth to the activity of producing the CV. Moreover, the Action Plan is one method of presenting a portrait of students across the curriculum. Most modules the students took were one semester in length, and in the thick of assessments and assignments, students could find it difficult to give serious thought to progress in personal skills and personal goals except as a marginalised activity, in between more foregrounded activities in the curriculum such as module assessments. Beyond self-marketing, though, I found that the Plan functioned as a script for the interview with students in which I could explore the issues that arose. Discourse theory teaches us how people shift in their narratives from episodes or isolated events to the perception of these events as instances of a general pattern, to script formulations, consisting of what that pattern might be composed (Schank, R.c & Abelson, R.,1977, and Nelson, K.,1986). Script details are created within repeated and situated accounts of experience. In the Plan, these were first narrativised then reformulated in interviews. Such dialogic reformulations serve two useful purposes. First they strengthen the trust and integrity between staff and students. Second, they signal the importance of the interpersonal context of learning to students, and the links between academic and personal skills, between social and intellectual learning. 3 Resource Implications The key resource implications are as follows: For Staff: Curriculum development The Action Plan was designed to work within a context in which it would be embedded within a coherent skills-based structure in the curriculum. This is crucial to its success. However there are resource implications in the amount of time needed to map out the implementation of the Plan within the curriculum, and to persuade colleagues of its usefulness. On its own, the Plan is barely worth the effort of implementation: its success is crucially dependent on its integration in the curriculum. Staff time and development opportunities The use of the Plan with students requires staff to read the Plan in advance of their interviews with students, and to spend more time discussing it with students than they might otherwise do. This also raises the question of training. While use of the Plan does not amount to a counselling event, it does require staff to be aware of best practice in discussing the interface of personal and academic with students. For Students: Time to complete the Plan As will be evident below, students did feel that completing the Plan was time-consuming. Purpose of Plan Students need to be clear about the purpose of the Plan and the way in which it will be used in the curriculum. This needs to be clarified for them in course documentation, andemphasised by staff in specific modules. Student Feedback The Action Plan was piloted with one group of first year students (12 in number), and qualitative feedback was obtained from them, and their answers coded using a coding frame. Students used it throughout one year, and the Plan was used in level one and two Legal Skills classes. Students were asked first of all what they did not like about the Plan. Their responses were as follows: • Quite a lot to fill in (5) • Gave all this information before when I registered (4) • Not sure why I need to give all this information (4). Students were then asked to comment on what they liked about the Plan: • Helped me to talk about what I wanted to do [later in life] (7) • Made me realise how I wasnít prepared for university and how I could be more prepared (5) • Helped me review previous employment (3) I was surprised that few students thought the Plan helped them to review previous employment, particularly as this formed quite an important part of many of the discussions. It may be that for students, much part-time and holiday employment is short-term, and does not deserve much analysis in their eyes. Just over half the students, however did feel that the Plan helped to clarify future plans, and to think about the gaps between university and school or further education and personal life. Next, they were asked to comment on how the Plan had helped them to reflect on their university experience to date: • Helped me to talk to [my counsellor] about my experience of school and university (7) • Helped me assess strengths and weaknesses in my studying (3) • Don’t see the relevance of it (2) Here again, the Plan had had a significant effect. Students felt that the Plan had facilitated the discussion about academic context, while a few commented on the helpfulness of the skills- based elements of the discussion. In the context of a report on client interviewing skills in the level two legal skills module, one mature student commented on the Plan as follows: “I didn’t realise it at the time when I was filling out the form but it [ie the Plan] does help you think about your career and what you want to do. I found the interviewing [unit in the module] let me know what it was like for lawyers and I liked it. When I looked back at the Action Plan I found thatís what I wanted to do and what I thought I was good at.” 4 Conclusion and Future Developments This feedback comes from a very small sample, and clearly more research requires to be carried out. Even from this small sample, however, we can say that the Plan was a qualified success, and that there are some interim conclusions that can be drawn about future use of the Plan: • for students, the Plan is an unusual approach to skills-based learning, and therefore requires careful introduction so that they can appreciate its long-term advantages over the short-term effort of completing it • it would be helpful if there were some form of administrative integration between centralised registration records and the Plan • the Plan can be useful in departmental interpersonal initiatives • most students saw it as a way of understanding and communicating their past. • The Plan may require redrafting to help them see it more clearly as a tool to plan their future. • Staff development would have been essential if it the Plan were to become more than a pilot project. Staff self-image, for example, plays a role in the construction of the counselling role. Inevitably, staff bring unconscious attitudes and values to the counselling session, all of which affect the quality of the academic counsellor’s presence and, for students, the quality of the outcomes from the counselling interview. It would also be fair to say that not all staff may be easy with the concept of the counsellor, although everyone accepts that a caring role is essential (Brayne, 1998). If personal development planning is to succeed at a personal level among staff, therefore, there will be a need for staff development planning. References Brayne, H. (1998) Counselling skills for the lawyer: can the lawyer learn anything from counsellors?, The Law Teacher, 32, 2, 137-155 Carr, W., Kemmis, S. (1986) Becoming Critical, Lewes: Falmer Press Cottrell, D.J., McRorie, P., Perrin, F. (1994) The personal tutor system: an evaluation, Medical Education, 28, 544-49 Dearden, R.F. (1976) Theory and Practice in Education, London, Routledge & Kegan Paul Easton S., Van Loor, P. (1995) Experiences of lecturers helping distressed students in higher education, British Journal of Guidance and Counselling, 23, 173-78 Freeman, M. (1993) Rewriting the Self: History, Memory, Narrative London, Routledge Grayson, A., Clarke, D.G., Millar, H. (1998) Help seeking among students: are lecturers seen as potential sources of help?, Studies in Higher Education, 23, 2, 143-55 Karabenick S.A., Knapp, J.R. (1991) Relationship of academic help seeking to the use of learning strategies and other instrumental achievement behaviour in college students, Journal of Educational Psychology, 83, 221-30 Nelson, K. (1986), editor, Event Knowledge: Structure and Function in Development Hillsdale, NJ, Erlbaum Schank, R.C., Abelson, R. (1977) Scripts, Plans, Goals and Understanding Hillsdale, NJ, Erlbaum Scott, P. Watson, D. (1994) Managing the curriculum: roles and responsibilities, in Bocock, J., Watson, D., editors, Managing the Curriculum: Making Common Cause, SRHE & Open University Press, Buckingham This is a version of a paper given at a COSHEP seminar on Personal Development Planning in Higher Education (Scotland) in November 1997 at University of Abertay, Dundee, while the author was a member of staff in the Department of Law and Public Administration, Glasgow Caledonian University. 5 6 Summary The University of St Andrews has a strong system of student welfare support. Part of the Welfare set up is a volunteer force of about 25 students that form the SupNet (support Network) team. These students are supported in keeping a Personal Development Profile (PDP) issued as they commence training for work in the post. Students and staff involved in the SupNet team are committed to the formative process as well as the recording activity. Students principally use the opportunities afforded by the SupNet work for self- development. Neither the process nor the record are assessed formally as part of any academic programme. Staff view the process as an integral part of ongoing monitoring of the training of students in their SupNet role and use the record, with permission, in providing personal references for future employers. Dr Colin Mason is Head of Staff Development at the University of St Andrews. He has long been committed to enhancing student skills in the area of personal and professional development planning and is reknown for helping individuals and groups develop and use such tools as concept mapping. Sally Collier, supported by Catriona Baxter, is Student Adviser within the Welfare team of Student Support Services at St Andrews, encouraging and supporting students to participate in the SupNet initiative. Contact: [email protected] • performance criteria • professional skills development • reflective loop • formative assessment • summative assessment PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT PLANNING WITH SUPPORT NETWORK TEAM VOLUNTEERS Colin Mason, Sally Collier & Catriona Baxter University of St Andrews The type of paper-based system utilised is fairly simple and easy for students working in the SupNet team to commence recording their experiences. It provides a refined ‘tick-box’ type of record. The staff involved in the PDP scheme are not entirely happy (see also Evaluation) with this approach. Initial student reaction to this type of record is very favourable. However, as the students develop and become more involved emotionally in the work of the SupNet team they occasionally fail to complete the recording process, favouring instead, to experience the moment, grow and develop from it. Retrospective completion of the PDP record often occurs much later in such circumstances. Box 1 Mission Statement and Aims of St Andrews Student Support Service Mission This office of the Student Support Service aims to offer a comprehensive, readily accessible and responsive service in order to promote the academic, physical, emotional and spiritual well being of all individuals within our student community. The service aims to enable and support students of the University of St. Andrews and to offer advice and guidance in relation to: • Accommodation • Finance • Academic Issues • Personal and Relationship Issues • Disabilities and Special Needs • International Students • Ethnic Minority Students • Health and Medical Issues • LGBT Students These services will be provided by professionally trained staff and counsellors and, where appropriate, student volunteers within our strict confidential guidelines. Services will be offered on an individual and mutually supportive basis, dependent on need. The Student Support Service strives to promote equality and will not discriminate against individuals or groups on the grounds of race, culture, social class, religion, age, gender, sexual orientation or disability. We aspire to create a climate in which equality of all persons and openness to critical consideration of all ideas are encouraged, within the context that divergent points of view are essential for meaningful interaction to occur. Context The University of St Andrews has an integrated central Unit of support for students, the Student Support Service. The Student Support Service currently consists of four sub-sections including Welfare, Chaplain and Welfare, Financial, Academic. Welfare is normally the first point of contact and deals with everything related to routine advice, welfare counselling, special needs, overseas students, child-care, contraceptive clinic, and accommodation disputes in the private sector. The Mission and aims of Student Support Service are in Box 1. In addition, a volunteer team of 25 students called the SupNet (Support Network), who are trained in welfare and counselling issues, can be called upon by the staff to befriend a student and give assistance in helping someone settle down in our student community. The SupNet also run a number of self-help groups and networks for, amongst others, M.E. or depression sufferers, students with eating disorders, and ethnic minority students. The students recruited to the SupNet team are encouraged to develop their own PDP record. This is a paper-based system for recording the development of a range of generic (or core/key skills) through opportunities provided by the work involved in supporting other students and liaising with both the student and other communities in St Andrews. Support and Guidance for the process is co-ordinated via Sally Collier, Student Advisor. In addition, the Head of Welfare, Chris Lusk (Assistant Hebdomadar, Welfare) supported by the Department Secretary, Maggie Winton, give advice and provide references for students based upon copies of information held in a photocopy of the completed PDP record. An anonymised example of a reference based upon PDP information is provided in Box 2. Description The PDP in HE paperwork supports the process of recording examples of where personal development opportunities have arisen and have been seized by students. An extensive document is supplied to students. The “Guidelines on Preparing a Personal Development Profile”, contains a range of different information; a self-assessment Transferable Core Skills (TCS) questionnaire; Skills development recording sheets; and references to study skills and personal development resources such as texts and organisations including the Careers Advisory Service at St Andrews. The students record the acquisition of skills in a Personal Development Profile issued when they commence training for work in the post (See Box 3). The paper-based nature of the record facilitates student control of the recording process in a very flexible and personal manner. The record is very much the property of the student. However, when the record has been completed and students leave the University a copy is lodged in the Welfare office for staff to refer to when they are required to write references (Box 2 below). An example of a completed Skills Development Sheet is supplied in Box 4. 7 The Student Support Service is dedicated to developing and sustaining an environment which encourages optimum human development. Aims • To provide support, both emotional and practical, to students in order to free them from concerns, which may distract them from realising their education potential. • To often be the first port of call for more than 5000 students and 1700 staff. • To provide crisis management alongside identifying student welfare needs and to realise the development of resources in response to demand. • To organise internal support strategies for individual students; to link in with external agencies to develop their services with consideration of the needs of our students.’ These aims are achieved through the work of a dedicated group of staff and volunteer students. All staff are professionally qualified and receive regular updating on their training. Needless to say, the service is completely confidential, both externally and internally through other departments in the University itself. Box 2 Anonymised Reference From: The Office of the Assistant Hebdomadar (Welfare) [SupNetters Name] Thank you for your letter of [date] in which you are requesting me to provide a reference for [Name], a task I am more than happy to do. [Name] has worked for me for almost four years in the capacity of a SupNet (student support volunteer) member. As such, she has taken part in extensive training on issues such as counselling skills, mental health issues, drug and alcohol awareness and is fully first aid trained. She has been involved in organising welfare publicity, managing small self-help groups, helping run our Freshers’ orientation, and is a valued team leader in our crisis management team administering first aid etc. during Raisin Weekend (an annual student-run festival). Within our department for the past two years, [Name] has been involved in managing the Eating Disorder network and group. In this capacity, she has worked tirelessly, both in running the group and dealing on a one-to-one basis, usually out of hours, with students who are often in crisis. I have constantly been impressed with the calm dedication that [Name] brings to this work, while researching and building up our information resources. Her commitment and trustworthy approach has been commented upon by many professional contacts (Wardens, local GPs etc.). [Name] has also been an active member of the Student Voluntary Service, the Hall Representative on the Students Representative Council, an instructor for the University Lifesaving Club, and has been a University Ambassador for two years. As part of her learning while carrying out these tasks, [Name] has completed a Personal Development Profile (PDP), a copy of which she will supply to you upon request. This identifies the categories of areas which she has given thought to developing throughout her time with us. By examining this Profile, you will note that [Name] has experience in giving structured presentations in public, organising team members and leading projects with creativity and motivation. She has used self-reflection on a continuous basis to analyse her motives, aims and targets, and she has had to account to us for her decisions - with much success. [Name’s] practical, written communication and analytical skills have developed considerably throughout her time with us, as you will see from her PDP. Her interpersonal skills - very much in evidence at the start of her employment - have been used over and over again, encouraging her already natural rapport with people. The timing of the dates in the PDP will emphasise her ability to keep to deadlines with serious commitment once targets are identified. The self-reflective element of the PDP has identified some areas where [Name] would wish to develop further, eg when making public presentations, her verbal and written work is excellent but she requires further experience in the use of technological visual aids such as Powerpoint. [Name’s] enthusiasm and adaptability would make the opportunity to learn the only requirement here. [Name] presents as ever cheerful, co-operative and eager to help whenever possible. All in all, I find her to be one of the most reliable people on our team - when [Name] says she will take on a project, we know it will be properly addressed with a quiet confidence. I trust this is sufficient information for your purposes. However, if I can be of any further assistance, please do not hesitate to contact me. Yours sincerely, Chris Lusk Assistant Hebdomadar (Welfare) 8